Invest in 'Working Trash,' the payoff is lots of laughs


November 26, 1990|By Michael Hill

THOUGH THE CONCEPT is borrowed, Fox's debut in the television movie business has something unusual in a made-for-TV comedy film: laughs. Not chuckles or warm smiles or wry grins, but actual out-and-out laughs.

It also has George Carlin, which accounts for a great deal in the guffaw department.

"Working Trash," which will be on Channel 45 (WBFF) at 8 o'clock tonight, is a twist on the theme of Mike Nichols' "Working Girl." Then again, that was a twist on the theme of Cinderella, so who's keeping score, anyway?

Carlin plays Ralph, a blue-collar type heavy in debt to gamblers. He opens matters up with a hilarious dialogue with wife Ruth, played by Ellen Ratner, conducted on the porch of their dilapidated suburban home.

We then meet Mr. Up-and-Coming Hunk (Ben Stiller) who has Wall Street ambitions but Bowery credentials. The big brokerage firm offers him a job as a janitor where Ralph turns out to be his co-worker.

A little pilfered inside information here, a pile of borrowed money there and some wise stock choices get Ralph out of debt and the boiler room investment crew is up and running with the big boys.

The success leads to romance between the new-hire janitor and the beautiful stock broker, a nice turn by Leslie Hope, much to the consternation of the film's designated bad guy, Baltimorean Jack Blessing doing "Working Trash's" version of Sigourney Weaver in "Working Girl," with Dan Castellanata as his yes-man assistant.

The plot is not all the much, but a nice attention to details raises "Working Trash's" comedy return above the average on two hours' investment.

Whether it's Buddy Ebsen's portrayal of the well-meaning aging head of this firm, whose investment mind is still keen when he can stay awake; Michael J. Pollard's usual addled self as the shoeshine boy; or the depiction of Ralph and Ruth's total lack of taste as they redecorate their home with their earnings, the small moments are done just right.

And despite its commentary on the class difference amond us, don't think for a moment it's some sort of important document with a heavy statement to make. It's a lighweight throwaway. But it's a funny movie and with tough times apparently ahead, that might make it a precious commodity.

"Working Trash"

*** A pair of brokerage janitors parley some inside information and stock market savvy into a small fortune.

CAST: George Carlin, Ben Stiller

TIME: Tonight at 8 o'clock

CHANNEL: Fox Channel 45 (WBFF)


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